Archive for January 2009

Early nomination for "Cnut of the Week"

Stilgherrian takes weekly nominations for “Cnut of the Week“. Traditionally the gong goes to Stephen Conroy, for his increasingly futile attempts to hold back the (largely imaginary) tide of paedophiles sweeping over the internet.

Unfortunately I believe this week’s spot has already been claimed. However, I’d like to make an early nomination for next week.

Steve Turner, assistant secretary of the Public Service Association of NSW, said … the blame did not lie solely with the Government as “any computer system can be hacked … even American defence force computers”.

[update 12/2/2009] Nope, there hadn’t been a Stilgherrian Live for a while. There is now though, so consider this a nomination[/update]

Habeas Corpus – granted.

Reading the draft Executive Order ordering Guantánamo Bay detention facilities to be closed, one minor paragraph jumped out at me:

(c) The individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have the constitutional privilege of

the writ of habeas corpus. Most of those individuals have filed petitions for a writ of

habeas corpus in Federal court challenging the lawfulness of their detention.

If that was the entirety of the order, it would be a huge step forward for people still imprisoned there – they’ll be able to force the government to justify their imprisonment, a right that was consistently denied to David Hicks and the other detainees.

You can read the whole order from a link at the bottom of the ACLU’s press release.

You know you’re reading a website targeted at Americans when you see phrases like this:

Firefox is particularly strong in Europe, the area over which the EU has oversight.

I say, old bean…

I’ve been Hatsbied – I think.

unchangingsalmon

Certainly fits the <adjective>salmon pattern. That Y! IM account is listed on my Livejournal user info page. On the other hand, wikipedia reports salmon bots talking to AIM users, not Y! Messenger users.

*shrug* It amused me for a good 30 seconds. I didn’t bother responding. I did note later in the day that there was a story about memristors on the front page of slashdot, but of course I have no evidence that the two are related.

Shittyfail updated:

After my last post, Rich Buggy mentioned his own complaint, something that I remember from my days as a commuter – Cityrail, every year, run a Saturday timetable (with some extra peak-hour services) for around a week, roughly between Christmas and New Years, and usually stretching a few days on at least one side. Despite the reduced level of service, they still insist on charging full peak fares for anyone trying to get to work before 9AM, or buying a weekly ticket. Full details of the reduced services are still on Cityrail’s website.

More interestingly, an anonymous commenter (who I think I’m going to name “Deep Train”) left a comment, which got held for moderation. Rather than letting it through, I’m going to publish it here, as it’s worthy of its own post.

It is worse than you think. If CityRail was in the energy business it would be called Enron. As I understand it, the figures are fudged in various ways, but I only have unsubstantiated rumours to that effect.

So on-time running is measured only at Central at the moment. However, I heard today, confirming unsubstantiated rumours, that on-time running is lower than 25% at some stations.

These performance indicators should be measured by an independent organisation.

Optus: not just incompetent, but malicious too

Right, so we all know that Optus decided to charge international call rates for some local numbers, to try to claw back some of the money they’re losing as customers choose cheaper options to call home. A more sensible option would be to provide reasonable rates to existing customers – or set up such a VOIP service yourself, and let customers choose between the cheaper lower-quality VOIP service, or paying more for a “premium” connection[1] – and maybe even snagging some customers from other carriers. That woud be hard though – so instead, lets just slug prepaid customers with additional fees to access the VOIP services, and pray that not too many of them port their service to a different provider.

But that’s just stupidity. This is outright theft:

The most recent legal case, decided on November 27, also forced Optus to concede it had stolen 100 numbers from a tiny telecommunications carrier in Vanuatu and then allowed a pair of its pornographer partners, Global Internet Billing in Britain and MDC in Europe, to use the stolen numbers for their business.

Optus then kept the proceeds of these calls, money which would have normally been payable to the Vanuatu carrier.

[1] Of course, the difference would probably be entirely in the marketing and not in the implementation of the service, but that’s nothing new.

Shittyrail fail again

Remember when Cityrail decided that trying to get trains to run on time was too hard, so they just redefined “on time” to make things easier?

Remeber how shortly afterwards Cityrail had posters all over the stations with graphs showing the huge increase in on-time running compared to the same time last year – and didn’t mention that the two sets of numbers used different definitions of “on time”?

They’re doing it again. Cityrail has a target of no more than 5% of services running at more than 135% passenger capacity – but over the last two years, the actual figure has been 16%. Rather than trying to fix the problem, they’re redefining the target to be 17%.

Keep in mind that this is not 16% of services at full capacity: this is 16% of services at least 35% *over* the rated capacity of the carriage.

Well done Shittyfail!

THC == The Happy Creationist?

From My New Year’s Resolution: Be A Proud Creationist:

The second message was even more bizarre. After the excitement of the first message and the realisation that there was only Australian beer left and the sun hadn’t yet set, we were rapt to see the skywriter trace out the word ‘THE’. We gazed on as he added, ‘CREATOR’. Intrigued, we cooed as the pilot scrawled ‘IS’… and waited for the payoff…

JESUS‘.

Fuck. I mean, that’s not even biblically accurate, surely! Jesus doesn’t come in until after the Triwizard Tournament! According to Genesis, Yahwehdidit. He was so clever, he managed to create the world twice in two different orders!

See, I lost interest in this even earlier: when I last saw this bit of drivel it had just turned into “The“, and I got bored and went back inside. For a few moments before that, the sky had proudly been advertising “THC”…

(Side note: I found this past via a pingback on Stilgherrian’s post “Telstra, you goddam bloody idiots!” – you’ll have to read both posts to figure out the connection)

Shelley the Republican on Ubuntu

People have been telling me to read STR for ages, but I’ve never got around to it. Pascal just went to the site while I was shoulder surfing – and thus I discovered this review of Ubuntu:

One of the great things about Windows is the ease of obtaining powerful utilities and applications. In addition to hundreds of great titles available on CD-ROM you can download awesome shareware applications: simply click on Setup.exe and most installers will instantly deploy your chosen software, sometimes with cool bonus productivity apps that enhance your browsing experience. In comparison with Microsoft’s common-sense approach, pandemonium reigns on the Linux platform.

The only way to install software is via a tool called the ‘package manager’ which is confusingly also called ‘Synaptic’. This works according to a similar principle as a communist super-market: You have a limited range of software which has been chosen on a purely ideological basis rather than functionality. If you want to ‘think different’, it’s tough-luck again: Another obvious fail for the ‘contender’.

To make matters worse, in order to install an application you must be ‘root’ which entails memorizing a series of confusing passwords. By contrast Windows allows any user to install the applications they need to do their work – a wise productivity gain that endears the flexible NT platform to IT departments the world over.

The rest is good reading too. Very informative! I’m switching away from Ubuntu forthwith.

2009 really started with a bang.  Here’s what James twittered about said bang: